April 28, 2016

Nehemiah 4:9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

In some ways the Book of Nehemiah reminds me of the Letter of James in the New Testament, because it is both spiritual and intensely practical. The focus is on God, but human responsibility and activity are clearly stated. In this particular case, people who ignore God would have just set a guard, and people who over-spiritualize would have just prayed. Nehemiah did both. It’s like James asking what good faith is if it doesn’t lead to action. (James 2:26) We tend to make things into either/or questions when actually they are both/and. A major rift in the Church down through the centuries has been social action versus evangelism. Today there are evangelistic organizations that tend to ignore physical needs, and there are social welfare organizations that are strictly non-religious. One shining example of an organization that combines the two is Samaritan’s Purse. They have one of the highest ratings in the world of converting donor funds into actual aid, and they do it unapologetically in the name of Jesus Christ. Muslim countries would like to exclude them because of the second factor, but often accept them because of how very good they are at getting physical help where it is needed. I have no doubt that many in that organization are going to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when they stand before God’s throne. However, the matter of combining the physical and the spiritual applies to every area of life, and not just disaster relief. If we are genuinely spiritual, then we will be actively obedient to God in practical ways. In God’s economy, there is no dichotomy.

I feel like I tend to lean to the spiritual side to the detriment of the practical at times, and that’s not good. At the same time, the pleas for money for this and that “good cause” are literally endless, to the point that I tend to delete email the moment I hit any mention of money. That’s not good either. I need to make the use God intends of all that He places in my hands, without being whipped around by various humanistic motivations. That calls for more wisdom than I have! However, if I will be active in my obedience to God, He will manifest His wisdom through me in spite of myself, and people will be blessed and He will be glorified.

Father, thank You for this Word. Thank You for making it clear that I’m to preach from James 2 on Sunday! Help me be more and more accurately and effectively a representation of my Lord Jesus Christ, not just on Sundays but every day of the week, so that more and more people may be drawn to repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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